Monday, May 22, 2017

Awards and A Lit Fest

This past week was Emily's final day and there was an award ceremony at the school that we do our independent studies through. As is customary, each year as the sixth graders leave elementary behind for jr. high, the teachers choose a student of the year for each category they attend on their bi/monthly Fridays. This year, Emily won Art Student of the Year. She also won a superior ribbon for her poetry entry in the ACSI Writing Contest. Needless to say, that girl makes me smile.



I wasn't able to stay for the Field Day after, as I normally do, because I had to leave for New York and the Millbrook Literary Festival. The event was a bit on the slow side, and I didn't sell much; but I had a fabulous time catching up with my good friends the Mojicas. Victor writes and illustrates his own works as well as illustrating for Barbara who writes a history series. Together they make a formidable team. There latest collaboration is their book about Ford's Theater.



I also met and chatted with some Face Book friends I hadn't personally met yet. There was the oh so kind and charming Susanna Leonard Hill, author and host of writing contests, and her table mate the fantastic Nancy Furstinger. I also made some new friends like the talented Karen Kaufman Orloff and the talented illustrator/author Isabelle Garbani whose book, The Secret Elephant, is too, too funny. And I was delighted to be sandwiched between the eloquent David Cundy and the charismatic David Neilsen. David Neilsen charmingly shared with me the back story of how Chris Grabenstein helped him get published. So if his work is good enough to be promoted by Chris, I'm pretty sure you want to check it out. Just listening to the spiel, for his soon to be released book, made me wish I had more time to read chapter books.

Nancy, Me, and Susanna




Me and Karen




Isabelle Garbani

David Neilsen


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Art and Lazy Cats

This past week I celebrated both my birthday and Mother's Day. During art lessons with Emily we made our own printing blocks out of Styrofoam plates cut down. She made two prints on card stock and unbeknownst to me she turned one into a birthday card. The other she made into a Mother's Day Card for her MaMaw.


This was a super easy art and craft project and if  you want to make your own all you need are a few foam plates, scissors, a pencil, some poster paint, a foam roller, and card stock. Cut the plates into squares and draw a design of your choice with pencil into the foam. Roll the paint gently over the foam block and carefully press down on card paper.





I also continued drywall work in the basement. I got all the corners taped and mudded and all the ceiling seams taped and mudded as well. After a particularly long day of sanding and mudding, I went up to take a shower and wash the drywall compound dust off of my face and out of my hair, and I found all three of our lazy cats on my bed. If only I could teach them to work with me in the basement (sigh).


 So all the celebrating and art this week made me grab for some books out of  my pile about artists. The first book I read was called Remy and Lulu. It was the story of LuLu the dog and her new found friend Remy the painter. They become the rage of Paris until Remy receives new spectacles and loses his passion to paint. Fortunately Remy and LuLu's friendship helps them to survive the bumps along the way, and in the end, they make spectacular art and a new friend.


The second book I read, Radiant Child, was the true life story of artist Jean Michel Basquiat. Against all odds, and despite some hardships, Jean Michel never lost his desire to become a famous artist, a feat which he eventually accomplished. Inspired by his mother who drew with him on the floor when he was young, Jean Michel is the ultimate picture of following your passion and never giving  up. Unfortunately, Jean Michel struggled with drug addiction and passed away at a very  young age. But Javaka Steptoe keeps his memory alive in this colorful picture book.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Birthday's, Bunnies, and Bargains

May is a beautiful month, and I'm not just saying that because I was born in May. May is when Bobby starts searching for and planting wonderful things in our vegetable garden. May means school is almost over. And May means lots of wildlife activity in our yard.

Sunday morning I woke up early before anyone else in the house; and when I opened the living room blind, I saw two baby bunnies snuggled together near my flower bed.

 

Sunday afternoon, Bobby and Emily took me out to lunch for an early birthday treat. We went to Applebee's, and I used my Christmas gift cards. I usually style my hair in braids when I go out and was pleasantly surprised when Emily came down sporting braids as well.


And Sunday evening when I sat down to write this post, I remembered the great book bargain Emily and I found at the thrift store recently. We found the first five hardback Nancy Drew books. Emily is a great lover of mysteries and has loved Nancy Drew ever since her aunt gave her two Nancy Drew paper backs last year. Nancy Drew books are the kind that never go out of style. She has read the first one already, so I'm going to keep my eyes pealed for books 6 through 12.

 




And while I normally don't read anything but children's books for time reasons, I did start reading A Good Creek Christmas (Kindle Version) written by my friend Virginia Smith. I've only had the chance to read three chapters, but the story is definitely pulling me in. With a myriad of interesting characters and descriptions that really create mental pictures, Virginia has created a top notch cozy mystery that I can't wait to finish. And like me, Virginia has a love of baking and has included a great recipe.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, May 1, 2017

2017 Southern Kentucky Book Festival (Part 2)

My four days in Kentucky and at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival every year makes such an impression on me that it takes two posts to share everything I want to share! Last week I shared Emily's book choices, pictures of what she and her father did while they waited for me, and some pictures of my friends and me. This week I thought I'd share a little bit of behind the scenes.

First of all, if you arrive on Thursday, as I do, for Children's Day on Friday, the local book club hosts an author salon at a private home. There is a beautiful hors devour spread, and a story request. This year's request was for a short story about an author or illustrator living or dead.



For some reason, there was a glitch and I didn't receive my request information, so I had to think of a story on the fly. Thankfully, I was sitting by my friend Mark who is one of the most awesome illustrators I know as well as a new Middle Grade author. I had a story to tell about the year when a little girl at the festival yanked her friend to my table exclaiming, "Here she is. She's the best drawer ever."

To fully understand this, you have to know that my drawing skills are barely above stick person compared to Mark's; and of course, he was sketching away brilliantly at the end of the aisle. But, the farm animal I had drawn for the girl apparently made an impact that I could never have imagined. Despite this coo, I heartily encourage you to check out the books Mark has illustrated and the ones he's written. Here are just a few I've read!




Friday evening, after the Children's Day event is complete, there is an author reception. This is where the public and authors mingle and they announce the winner of the Kentucky Book Award. This is an event I adore because there isn't much time to mingle with friends when you're signing books. This is where I hang with some of the coolest people I know and where I am introduced to authors I don't know yet, but people I will probably come to love.

Lois Sephaban, me, and bestie Lori A. Moore

Bestie Mark Wayne Adams, bestie Virginia (Ginny) Smith,
and the handsome Ray Peden

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Southern Kentucky Book Fest (Part 1)

If you can only attend one book festival in your life, the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green, KY is the one to shoot for. I have participated in this festival five times in the past seven years, and I must say I always leave feeling thoroughly satisfied. The festival organizers, volunteers, and Barnes and Noble staff all recognize me now and show such southern hospitality it should be bottled and sold!



It's also my opportunity to connect with my favorite author and illustrator friends and to make new friends.

Silly Selfie with Bestie Lori A. Moore!

Long time friend, silly guy, and mathematician Bruce Kessler!


Long time friend Middle Grade Author Gail Nall hijacking
R.L. Stine's name tag!

Brooks Benjamin fabulous teacher of important things
 and Middle Grade author!

Bestie Debbie Dadey famous author of
The Baily School Kids and Mermaid Tales!

Longtime friend Middle Grade author Kristin Tubb!

New friend debut author and fellow Ohioan
 Meghan Colvin!


It's Emily's chance to pick out a new book to read, and she usually picks an author she hasn't read yet. Last year she chose Paper Wishes by Lois Sephaban and this year she chose Tower of the Five Orders - The Shakespeare Mysteries by Deron Hicks. She also brings her sketch books to show our  friend author and illustrator Mark Wayne Adams.








And if you ever wondered what family members do while authors and illustrators are signing and schmoozing? Well Bobby and Emily go horse back riding at the Jesse James Riding Stables, they tree-top zip-line, they hang out at Chaney's Dairy Barn, and they eat tons of Krispy Kreme donuts!








Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter, Love, And An Out of Control Book!

 Last week we gladly took the week off for spring break, and I caught up on my to-do list while Emily caught up with her friends. In addition, we had a visitor in our front yard. Usually, we find our visitors in the back  yard where the feeders are.


This past weekend my family also celebrated Easter and all the beauty and splendor it holds. The only sad moment occurred when everyone grabbed a plate off of the table, and I realized I had set ten places instead of nine. When my mom was with us the number was ten. It had been ten for the four years since my had dad passed away. I do not love the number nine nearly as much as I loved the number ten, and I might forget the number is still not ten from time to time, but I comfort myself that one day I will see my mom again and numbers won't matter any more!






And finally, I read two fun books from my library pile. The first book I read is cute, fun, and has some audience participation required. It is called This Book IS Out of Control and is the story of Ben and his new fire trick. Or more aptly, the remote control that comes with his fire truck. Ben takes his new toy and remote to his friend Bella's house to show it off. But instead of making his firetruck work, Ben's remote does strange things to the dog. Needless to say, a very unusual time ensues.


The second book I read is I Love You Forever and it is a beautiful quiet picture book about a mom's answer to a child's question of when she was cuter, when she was younger or now. It reminded me of something I have said to my daughter since she was tiny which is, "I will always love you no matter what!"


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. Also be sure to drop by Literacy Musings Mondays for more great blogs as well as my personal website Fun With Aileen where you will find more on reading, writing, and my very own chapter and picture books. And finally, you can find me on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.